Clean Out Your Emotional Closet
By Anne Peterson
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. - Philippians 4:8
Minimizing is a movement. Get rid of the things you no longer need. Simplify, pare down, focus on what’s important. As I was looking through my house for unneeded items, I started taking inventory of my emotional closet as well.
I had things stored in there for years. In little plastic bags I kept previous hurts. The plastic kept them fresh. And I could take them out at any given time and relive those hurts. What I found was that as I relived them, the emotions were still intact. And I’m afraid to say, some of them felt like the offense just happened.
So why did I keep them so long? I remember my faulty thinking. If I let go of them too soon then what would be learned? But, if I held onto them and took them out from time to time. Well, that gave credence to them.
I came across the verse in Hebrews 10:17, where God said, “And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more.” God goes on to say in verse 18, “Now where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin.”
I thought about this for a while and reflected on Jesus’ words when he was on the cross. He said, “It is finished.” The payment he made with his precious blood took care of all my sins. Every last one of them.
And God doesn’t have a closet with all my sins stored away. Jesus wiped them all out. In Colossians 3:13, it explains that we are told to be forgiving as the Lord was to us.
I certainly was not obedient as far as forgiveness. And yet, I knew what I had to do.
As I lay all my hurts out I realized something significant. When I put them next to God’s checklist of things we ought to think about. None of those things I had kept were the thoughts God wanted me to have. They were not honorable, just, pure, or lovely. They were not good reports, and some of them were probably not even true. Just distorted thoughts I had.
And here I was taking such good care of useless things.
So I brought all of my hurts to the Lord. One by one, I put them before him. And there wasn’t one he wanted me to keep.
There was resistance on my part at first, but God helped me realize that I had not forgiven others for hurting me. And by refusing to forgive I was making quite a statement. Jesus died for our sins. But by choosing to NOT forgive, I was in reality saying, “Jesus, what you did by dying on the cross was good, it just wasn’t enough.”
God gently showed me how arrogant that was.
So now I have an empty closet. No more little hurts piled on top of one another. No longer do I take them out and relive those hurts. They are forgiven. When Jesus died on the cross and said, “It is finished.” He meant it.
I feel a little freer now that my closet is empty. Lighter. I like the way the closet looks. And what’s more, God does too. And a funny thing happened as a result of my closet cleaning. I discovered I am less irritable towards Mike. I guess keeping score is okay for sports, but not forgiveness.
Maybe I can start putting some good things in that empty closet of mine. Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is… I certainly have the room now.
Anne Peterson is a regular contributor to Crosswalk. Anne is a poet, speaker, published author of 14 books, including her memoir, Broken: A story of abuse, survival, and hope. Anne has been married to her husband, Michael, for 43 years. Sign up for anne’s newsletter at www.annepeterson.com or connect with her on Facebook. Then you’ll hear about her new writings.
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